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Microsoft Project 2010 : Entering Tracking Information at the Task Level (part 3)

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3/29/2015 9:18:13 PM

Editing Task Actual Duration

This field enables you to display and enter the amount of task duration that has been used so far in the project. If you enter a value less than the total scheduled duration, Project presumes everything is on schedule and makes the following calculations:

  • The Actual Start field will be replaced with the scheduled Start date if Actual Start field is still NA.

  • Remaining Duration is replaced by Duration – Actual Duration, while % Complete is calculated as 100 × Actual Duration / Duration.

  • Finally, Actual Cost and Actual Work are set the same as the scheduled time-phased work and cost scheduled for that duration.

If, on the other hand, you enter a value for Actual Duration that is longer than the scheduled Duration, Microsoft Project presumes the task is finished and took longer than scheduled and calculates the following:

  • % Complete is set to 100%, while Remaining Duration is set to 0.

  • Actual Finish is changed to match the longer duration.

  • The scheduled Duration and scheduled Finish are set to match the Actual Duration and new Actual Finish.

  • If the task type has been set to Fixed Units or Fixed Duration, any assignment scheduled to end when the task ends has their Actual Finish changed to match the task Actual Finish field. The Actual Work, Work, Actual Cost, and Cost fields for the aforementioned assignments are increased by the same proportion as the duration has been changed.

  • If the task type is Fixed Work, Actual Cost and Actual Work are then set to equal the scheduled Cost and Work. Any assignments scheduled to finish when the task finishes get the same Actual Finish as the task. The Actual Cost and Actual Work fields are changed to the same as their scheduled Cost and Work fields.

  • Any assignments that were scheduled to finish before the task is finished are presumed to have finished on time, and their scheduled Cost and Work fields are copied into the Actual Cost and Actual Work fields.

Editing Task Remaining Duration

The Remaining Duration field is closely coupled with the task Duration and Finish date fields. If the Actual Start field contains NA, any editing done to the Remaining Duration field might have a direct effect on the other tracking fields. The task Finish date and Duration will change if you alter the Remaining Duration data before the Actual Start date has been declared. Furthermore, other calculated fields like Cost will be changed as the task duration is recomputed.

If the Actual Start field has an entry, and you alter the Remaining Duration, the following behavior occurs:

  • A reduction in the Remaining Duration to a non-zero value results in a change to the task Duration and a recalculation of Finish date, Cost, Work, and so forth. If Remaining Duration is reduced to zero, Microsoft Project changes the Actual Finish to the scheduled Start date, changes the task to 100% complete, sets the task Duration to zero, and recalculates other fields accordingly. This type of edit also marks the task as a milestone.

  • An increase in value in Remaining Duration, after the task has started, means that Microsoft Project presumes the scheduled Duration has increased and calculates new values for scheduled Cost, Finish, Work, Remaining Cost, Remaining Work, % Complete, and so forth.

Editing Task Actual Work

The task Actual Work field shows the amount of work that has been completed by the resource or resources assigned to the task. The field is zero until tracking begins. If you enter any amount in the task Actual Work field, this entry is distributed between the resources according to their individual calendars. If the Actual Start date has not been declared, the actual work data distribution begins on the planned start date for each resource.

For instance, Eric and Stacey are full-time workers and scheduled to start task work on the same day; their work is distributed as 30 hours and 10 hours, respectively. If you enter 20 hours in the task Actual Work field, Microsoft Project records 10 hours of Actual Work for Eric and 10 hours of Actual Work for Stacey. Eric will have 20 hours of remaining work, whereas Stacey has zero remaining work. The task is not yet complete because Eric’s work is not complete.


The calendar conditions for the project, tasks, and resources can also affect the end result of Actual Work edits. Task Actual Work data are distributed differently when you have a mix of full-time and part-time resources. Make sure you experiment with variations so you can understand the tool behavior when you edit Actual Work.

Just like when entering Actual Duration, if you enter a value greater than the scheduled Work value, Microsoft Project assumes that the task is finished and recalculates data fields, such as Actual Start as scheduled (if it is NA), Actual Duration and Actual Finish commensurate with the added work, % Complete and % Work Complete are set to 100%, and Remaining Duration is set to zero.

Editing Task % Work Complete

When you edit the % Work Complete field when the Actual Start field is NA, Microsoft Project presumes that the task has started and sets Actual Work as a result. Microsoft Project then calculates Actual Work by multiplying % Work Complete by Work for the task. This assumes that the work scheduled was completed up through the amount of Actual Work, which determines Actual Duration. After that, % Complete is calculated by dividing Actual Duration by Duration. Actual Cost is then updated with the amount of cost scheduled for Actual Work.

Editing Task Remaining Work

You can use the Remaining Work field to indicate the amount of work to be completed in the future. If the Actual Start date is NA, your edits to Remaining Work do not affect any of the other tracking fields but your edits can impact the task duration and finish date. Your edits also change conditions, such as scheduled Work, Cost, Duration, and so on.

For example, if you have a task that has started and accumulated an amount of Actual Work, Microsoft Project automatically calculates the Remaining Work for the remaining duration of the task. If you decrease that Remaining Work value, you are indicating that there is less work to do to finish that task. Microsoft Project might in turn recalculate conditions, such as % Work Complete, % Complete, Duration, Remaining Duration, Cost, and so on.

If you increase Remaining Work, however, it means that the total work requirements for the task have increased, and Microsoft Project recalculates scheduled Work, Duration, Finish, % Complete, % Work Complete, Cost, Remaining Duration, and so forth.

Editing Task Time-Phased Actual Work

If you open the Task Usage view, you can edit Actual Work and Actual Overtime Work for the periods in which they were performed. If you want to look at the time-phased Actual Work field, right-click in the grid on the right and select Actual Work. To record Actual Overtime work, right-click again and choose Detail Styles. Double-click Actual Overtime Work in the list on the left to place it in the list on the right, and then click OK.

Every cell in the grid is a time period, and any edits to a cell are distributed between the beginning and ending dates for that cell. So, if the bottom tier in the timescale displays weeks, and you enter eight hours in a week that contains a one-day holiday, Microsoft Project distributes two hours of work in each of the remaining four days of the week. If you want to place all eight hours in one day, zoom in to display one-day intervals in the timescale.

If the task Actual Start is NA, the Actual Start will be established on the date of the cell period where you enter Actual Work.

If the entered Actual Work is less than the scheduled Work for that cell, remaining work is rescheduled into the future, after the planned end date for the task, therefore extending the task duration. If Actual Work is greater than scheduled Work for that cell, the extra work is subtracted from the remaining cells in the task, and the duration shrinks.

If you skip any time-phased periods between your data edits for Actual Work, those periods get zero time-phased task Actual Work, and the zeros roll down to time-phased assignment Actual Work. Work scheduled for those zeroed days will be rescheduled at the end of the task, therefore extending the duration.

- Microsoft Project 2010 : Entering Tracking Information at the Task Level (part 2) - Editing the Task Actual Start Date
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Entering Tracking Information at the Task Level (part 1)
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Tracking Your Project’s Performance and Costs - Understanding the Fields Used in Updating the Project Schedule
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Tracking Your Project Progress - Working with Project Baselines (part 2) - Using Usage Views to Show Time-Phased Details
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Tracking Your Project Progress - Working with Project Baselines (part 1) - Viewing Baselines
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Performing a Schedule Reality Check - Baselining the Schedule
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